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Essex volunteer police officers have been honoured with The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, the highest award a voluntary group can receive in the UK.
The award includes a ‘special designation’ for providing impactful support during the early months of the pandemic.
During last year’s lockdown, between March and June, the Special Constabulary volunteered over 54,000 operational hours, providing visible policing and helping communities during unprecedented times. And in the year to May 31, 2021, they volunteered a total of 207,552 hours to policing Essex, an average of 17,300 hours a month.
Superintendent Shaun Kane, head of Essex Police Special Constabulary, said the recognition is inspiring and that there is ‘an overwhelming sense of gratitude’ which is a reflection of the pride felt by each and every officer.
Essex’s Special Constabulary is the second largest in the country with 513 officers dedicated to the people and communities of Essex and committed to helping them, keeping them safe and catching criminals.
Supt Kane said: “It has meant the world to be recognised in this way; to know that the support provided by our Specials has positively and tangibly contributed to policing and people’s lives.
“Essex is one of the fastest-growing Special Constabularies in the country, which is pushing the boundaries of inclusivity within the police service and consistently demonstrating our values in community-based policing.
“To receive The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service is a fantastic acknowledgement and achievement which also reflects the positive culture within our force. It’s an absolute privilege and I’d like to thank everyone who helped make this award possible.”
Specials Deputy Chief Officer Derek Hopkins has been a Special for 41 years and he is delighted at the news.
“It’s a recognition of the tremendous voluntary service that our special constables continuously provide. They enjoy helping to make our communities safer and better and this award is an accolade for all the amazing work they do, day in and day out,” he says.
“Essex Police Special Constabulary is always here and officers are always wanting to do more. This weekend, several of them will be going to Cornwall to help with the policing operation surrounding the G7 Summit this month.
“When the pandemic hit, it was an opportunity for our volunteers to do even more and those who had been furloughed or made redundant looked to carry out extra duties, performing vital and useful roles for the force as well as protecting and serving the people of Essex.”
Essex Police Special Constabulary has a long and distinguished history since being formed just over a century ago. When World War One broke out in 1914, the then Essex County Constabulary saw 150 of its 450 officers join the Army.
Other forces suffered similar decreases and so the Home Office introduced a team of 6,000 volunteers known as ‘Specials’ to boost the numbers of regular officers.
Unlike today they did not have a uniform, instead wearing a black and white striped armband to signify they were on duty.
Over the years, the role has adapted and improved – Specials now have the same uniform, training, equipment and powers as regular officers.
If you are interested in becoming a Special Constable, visit: www.essex.police.uk/specials